Friday, October 4, 2013

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for reforming state higher education system

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for reforming the state higher education system. 

During the 12th Plan period, 80 new universities would be created by converting autonomous colleges/colleges in a cluster to State universities. 100 new colleges, including professional/technical colleges would be set up and 54 existing colleges would be converted into model degree colleges. Infrastructure grants would be given to 150 universities and 3,500 colleges to upgrade and fill critical gaps in infrastructure especially libraries, laboratories etc. RUSA would also support 5,000 faculty positions. 

In the 12th Plan period, RUSA would have a financial outlay of Rs. 22,855 crore, of which Rs.16,227 crore will be the Central share. In addition, allocation of Rs. 1,800 crore in the 12th Plan for the existing scheme Sub-Mission polytechnics would also be subsumed in RUSA. Thus the total central share, including the existing scheme of polytechnics will be Rs. 18,027 crore during the 12th Plan. Centre-State funding would be in the ratio of 90:10 for North-Eastern States, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and 65:35 for other States and Union Territories. 

RUSA will be a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme spread over two plan periods, for improving access, equity and quality in the state higher education system. With over 96 percent of students enrolled in the state higher education system, there is a need for State colleges and universities to be strengthened through strategic Central funding and implementing certain much needed reforms. RUSA also aims to incentivize States to step up plan investments in higher education. 

The important objectives of the scheme are: 

• Improving the overall quality of existing state higher educational institutions by ensuring conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework. 

• Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education through high quality institutions in rural and semi urban areas as well as creating opportunities for students from rural areas to get access to better quality institutions. 

• Setting up of higher education institutions in unserved and underserved areas. 

• Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities to socially deprived communities; promote inclusion of women, minorities, SC/ST and OBCs as well as differently abled persons. 

• Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels. 

• Create an enabling atmosphere in higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovation. 

• Integrate skill developments efforts of the government with the conventional higher education system through optimum interventions. 

All funding under RUSA would be norm based and future grants would be performance based and outcome dependent. Commitment by States and institutions to certain academic, administrative and governance reforms will be a precondition for receiving funding. 


The National Development Council (NDC) approved RUSA as part of the 12th Plan. It was subsequently included in the list of 66 schemes approved by the Cabinet on 20th June 2013, as part of the restructured CSSs for implementation in the 12th Plan. 

National AIDS Control Programme Phase – IV

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved a gross budgetary support of Rs. 8632.77 crore for implementation of the National AIDS Control Programme Phase-IV by the Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

NACP IV will integrate with other national programmes and align with overall 12th Five Year Plan goals of inclusive growth and development. Having initiated the process of reversal in several high prevalent areas with continued emphasis on prevention, the next phase of NACP will focus on accelerating the reversal process and ensure integration of the programme response. 

The main objective of NACP IV is to: 

i. Reduce new infections by 50 percent (2007 Baseline of NACP III). 

ii. Provide comprehensive care and support to all persons living with HIV/AIDS and treatment services for all those who require it. 

This will be achieved through the following strategies:- 

i. Intensifying and consolidating prevention services with a focus on (a) high-risk groups and vulnerable population and (b) general population. 

ii. Expanding Information, Education and Communication (IEC) services for (a) general population and (b) High-Risk Groups (HRGS) with a focus on behaviour change and demand generation. 

iii. Increasing access and promoting comprehensive Care, Support and Treatment (CST) 

iv. Building capacities at National, State, District and facility levels 

v. Strengthening Strategic Information Management Systems. 

In 1992, the Government launched the first National AIDS Control Programme (NACP I) and in 1998 NACP II was initiated. Based on the learning from NACP I and II, the Government designed and Implemented NACP III (2007-2012) with an objective to "halt and reverse the HIV epidemic In India" by the end of the project. There is a steady decline in overall prevalence and nearly 50 percent decrease in new infections over the last ten years. NACP IV aims to consolidate the gains of NACP III. 

NACP III has given desired results and has been quoted as a global success. 

The Department of AIDS Control has been working closely with the Department of Health and Family Welfare towards integration of HIV/AIDS services into the larger health system, with the objective of optimal utilization of existing NRHM/RCH resources for strengthening NACP services, and vice versa. 

Approval of National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm during the 12th Five Year Plan

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the implementation of the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) during the 12th Plan Period with financial allocation of Rs.3507 crore. 

This would help in enhancing production of oilseeds by 6.58 million tonnes. This would also bring additional area of 1.25 lakh hectares under Oil Palm cultivation with increase in productivity of fresh fruit bunches from 4927 kg/ha to 15,000 kg/ha and increase in collection of tree borne oilseeds to 14 lakh tonne. 

Implementation of the proposed Mission would enhance production of vegetable oil sources by 2.48 million tonnes from oilseeds (1.70 million tonnes), oil palm (0.60 million tonnes) and tree borne oilseeds (0.18 million tonnes) by the end of the 12th Plan Period. 

The implementation strategy in the Mission would place emphasis on increasing the Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) with focus on varietal replacement; increasing irrigation coverage under oilseeds from 26 percent to 38 percent; diversification of area from low yielding cereals crops to oilseeds crops; inter-cropping of oilseeds and use of fallow land; area expansion under oil palm and TBOs; increasing availability of quality planting materials of oil palm and TBOs; enhancing procurement of oilseeds and collection and processing of TBOs. Recommended varieties and proven technologies would be demonstrated in a cluster approach through mini kits and frontline/cluster demonstration. The cluster approach would ensure participation of all categories of farmers, irrespective of the size of their holdings, social status and would demonstrate visible impact of technologies in enhancing productivity and production. 

NMOOP is built upon the achievements of the existing schemes of Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds. Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM), Tree Borne Oilseeds Scheme and Oil Palm Area Expansion (OPAE) programme during the 11th Plan period. Implementation of these schemes have shown increase in production and productivity of oilseeds, area expansion with increased production of FFBs under oil palm and augmented availability of quality planting materials, pre-processing technologies and awareness about TBOs. 

National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility

The Union Cabinet  approved the National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility that recognizes the need to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disabilities as well as to facilitate equal access to electronics and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This policy has been prepared after incorporating comments and suggestions from various stakeholders. 

The policy will facilitate equal and unhindered access to electronics and ICTs products and services by differently abled persons (both physically and mentally challenged) and to facilitate local language support for the same. This shall be achieved through universal access to electronics and ICT products and services to synchronize with barrier free environment and preferably usable without adaptation. Differently abled persons all over the country will benefit from this policy. 

The following strategies are envisaged for the implementation of the policy: 

• Creating awareness on universal electronics accessibility and universal design. 

• Capacity building and infrastructure development. 

• Setting up of model electronics and ICTs centres for providing training and demonstration to special educators and physically as well as mentally challenged persons. 

• Conducting research and development, use of innovation, ideas, technology etc. whether indigenous or outsourced from abroad. 

• Developing programme and schemes with greater emphasis for differently abled women/children. 

• Developing procurement guidelines for electronics and ICTs for accessibility and assistive needs. 


India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007 which, among other things, says that "State Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities, access on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including ICTs and systems and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public". 

Many countries who are signatories to UNCRPD have legislation policy or a framework to ensure equality for those with disability. Electronics and ICTs are key enablers in mitigating barriers faced by differently abled persons and in helping them to provide better opportunities for livelihood. 

Establishment of a Central Armed Police Forces Institute of Medical Sciences (CAPFIMS)

The Union Cabinet  approved the proposal to establish a Central Armed Police Forces Institute of Medical Sciences (CAPFILMS), along with a 500-bed General Hospital, a 300-bed Super Specialty Hospital, a Nursing College and a School of Paramedics. The Institute shall be registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and shall have a Governing Body and a Governing Council, under the Ministry of Home Affairs 

The creation of the Institute will facilitate attraction of talented professionals in the Central Armed Police Forces and their retention, besides providing in-house training/ specialization/Post Graduate /Super Specialty Post Graduate courses to in-service health care professionals. This will not only boost the morale of the force personnel, but also provide required trained technical hands in the medical set up of CAPFs for the benefit of their personnel and families. 

The total project cost is Rs. 1366.53 crore and is expected to be completed over a period of five to six years. Land measuring 48.80 acres has already been purchased at Maiden Garhi, New Delhi through the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). 

Because of the nature of their duties, Central Aimed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel have to stay away from their families for most of the duration of their service. Therefore, providing basic minimum health care facilities to the force personnel, as well as to their families on the pattern of the Defence Services is an urgent and important need for the effective and efficient functioning of CAPFs and their morale. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SEZ in India

India was one of the first countries in Asia to recognize the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promoting exports, with Asia's first EPZ set up in Kandla in 1965. In order to overcome the shortcomings experienced on account of the multiplicity of controls and clearances; absence of world-class infrastructure, and an unstable fiscal regime and with a view to attract larger foreign investments in India, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Policy was announced in April 2000.
   The SEZ Act, 2005, was an important bill to be passed by the Government of India in order to instill confidence in investors and signal the Government's commitment to a stable SEZ policy regime and with a view to impart stability to the SEZ regime thereby generating greater economic activity and employment through their establishment, a comprehensive draft SEZ Bill prepared after extensive discussions with the stakeholders.
  The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:
(a) generation of additional economic activity
(b) promotion of exports of goods and services;
(c) promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources;
(d) creation of employment opportunities;
(e) development of infrastructure facilities;
It is expected that this will trigger a large flow of foreign and domestic investment in SEZs, in infrastructure and productive capacity, leading to generation of additional economic activity and creation of employment opportunities.
      As on 17.07.13, a total 576   SEZs have  been approved by the Government with Andhra Pradesh having 109 SEZs. During this time, 102 SEZs have been received green signal in Maharashtra followed by Tamilnadu 67, Karnataka 61 and UttarPradesh 31. Among the Eastern states, West Bengal got 18 SEZs approvals.
Under the approved SEZs, 353 units have been set up in Semi-conductor group, 21 Engineering, 32 Bio-Tech and 23 Pharma and Chemical group. Gems and Gewellery sector also occupies a  large chunk of SEZ section with 13 units.
There are six Special Economic Zones operational in India. They are,
-         Kandla Special Economic Zone
-         Cochin Special Economic Zone- 93 units are operational under this zone
-         Madras Special Economic Zone
-         Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone- 106 units are operational under this zone
-         Falta Special Economic Zone- Six units are operational under this zone
-         Noida Special Economic Zone- 20 units are operational in this zone
The total exports from the SEZs during the last seven years and the current financial year are as under:

Financial Year
Exports from SEZs
 (Value  in Rs. Crore)

Minorities Development in India

India is a democratic country where people of all community live in peace and harmony. All major religions of the world are found in India. As such, Hindus are the majority community and the minority community includes Muslims,  Sikhs,  Christians,  Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as notified under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

Minorities are playing a very vital role in India’s political and social upliftment, contributing significantly in the development of our country. Governments from time to time have formulated programmes and schemes for socio-economic upliftment of minorities.

For this purpose Government of India created the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which aims at empowering the minority communities and creating an enabling environment for strengthening the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious character of our nation. It also aims at improving the socio-economic conditions of the minority communities through affirmative action and inclusive development, so that every citizen has equal opportunity to participate actively in building a vibrant nation.

To facilitate an equitable share for minority communities in education, employment, economic activities and to ensure their upliftment, Prime Minister's New 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities was announced in June, 2006. It provides programme specific interventions with definite goals which are to be achieved in a time bound manner. The objectives of the programme are: (a) Enhancing opportunities for education; (b) Ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment through existing and new schemes, enhanced credit support for self-employment and recruitment to State and Central Government jobs; (c) Improving the conditions of living of minorities by ensuring an appropriate share for them in infrastructure development schemes; and (d) Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.

An important aim of the programme has been to ensure that the benefits of various government schemes for the underprivileged reach the disadvantaged sections of the minority communities. In order to ensure that the benefits of these schemes flow equitably to the minorities, the programme envisages location of a certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas. The schemes included in the New 15-Point Programme are as under;

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme by providing services through Anganwadi Centres {Ministry of Women & Child Development}.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme (KGBV) {Ministry of Human Resources Development}
  • Aajeevika{Ministry of Rural Development}
  • Swarnajayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) {Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation}
  • Upgradation of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) {Ministry of Labour & Employment}
  • Bank credit under priority sector lending {Department of Financial Services}
  • Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) {Ministry of Rural Development}

Also acting on the Sachar Committee report, the Government has initiated several measures as:

  • Universalization of access to quality education at secondary stage called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
  • One model college each would be set up in 374 educationally backward districts (EBDs) of the country. Of 374 EBDs, 67 are among identified minority concentration districts.
  • Preference to be given by the University Grants Commission for provision of girls' hostels in universities and colleges in the areas where there is concentration of minorities especially Muslims.
  • Area Intensive & Madarsa Modernisation Programme has been revised and bifurcated into two schemes. (a) Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madarsas (SPQEM). It was attractive provision for better teachers' salary, increased assistance for books, teaching aids and computers and introduction of vocational subjects, etc and the other scheme which provides financial assistance for Infrastructure Development of Private aided/unaided Minority Institutes (IDMI).
  • Academies for professional development of Urdu medium teachers have been set up at three Central Universities namely, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU), New Delhi and Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU), Hyderabad.

Also, the Government has launched the Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) in 2008-09. The programme aims at improving the socio-economic and basic amenity facilities for improving the quality of life of the people and reducing imbalances in the Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs). Identified 'development deficits' are addressed through a district specific plan for provision of better infrastructure for school and secondary education, sanitation, pucca housing, drinking water and electricity supply, besides beneficiary oriented schemes for creating income generating activities. Absolutely critical infrastructure linkages like connecting roads, basic health infrastructure, ICDS centers, skill development and marketing facilities required for improving living conditions and income generating activities and catalyzing the growth process are eligible for inclusion in the plan.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs is also providing several scholarships to the minority communities to empower them educationally and socially across the country. These include: (a) The Pre-matric scholarship scheme. (b) Post-matric scholarship scheme. (c) The Merit-cum-Means Scholarship Scheme. (d) The Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF). (e) The Free Coaching and Allied Scheme. (f) Leadership Development of Minority Women scheme. (g) Grant In Aid Scheme to State Channelising agencies of National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation.

In this way the Government of India is making every effort for upliftment of minorities so that they can stand with others side by side in all spheres of life and live a dignified life.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Establishment of Atomic Power Stations in the Country

Twenty nuclear power reactors with a total installed generation capacity of 4780 MW are currently in operation in India. In addition, seven nuclear power reactors are at various stages of construction/commissioning. Start of work on nineteen new nuclear power reactors is planned in the XII Five Year Plan.

Implementation of the proposed nuclear power projects are in line with Five Year Plan proposals. The Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) in respect of nuclear power projects, where applicable, are in accordance with laws/policies of the respective state.

The new projects during the XII Five Year Plan are planned to be set up in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. The details are as under:
 Capacity (MW)
Indigenous Reactors
Gorakhpur 1&2
Gorakhpur, Haryana
2 x 700
Chutka 1&2
Chutka, Madhya Pradesh
2 x 700
Mahi Banswara, 1&2
Mahi Banswara, Rajasthan
2 x 700
Kaiga 5&6
Kaiga, Karnataka
2 x 700
FBR 1&2
Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu
2 x 500
Location to be decided
Reactors with International Co-operation
Kudankulam 3&4
Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu
2 x 1000
Jaitapur 1&2
Jaitapur, Maharashtra
2 x 1650
Kovvada, 1&2
Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh
2 x 1500
Chhaya Mithi Virdi, 1&2
Chhaya Mithi Virdi, Gujarat
2 x 1100

Explanation for the different types of reactors indicated above is given below:

PHWR  :  Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of indigenous design using Uranium based fuel.

FBR      :  Fast Breeder Reactors of indigenous design using Plutonium and Uranium based fuel.

AHWR  :   Advanced Heavy Water Reactor using enriched Uranium/Plutonium and  Thorium based fuel.

LWR     :  Light Water Reactors imported from foreign suppliers using enriched Uranium based fuel.

Water Dispute Tribunals

There are 8 no. of Inter-State River Water Disputes  tribunal set up under Inter State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956. Their present status are as follows:

Name of Tribunal
States concerned
Date of constitution
Present Status
Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal
Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh & Orissa
April, 1969
Award given on July, 1980
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -I
Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,
April, 1969
Award given on May, 1976
Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra
October, 1969
Award given on December, 1979
Ravi & BeasWater Tribunal
Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan
April, 1986
Report under section 5(2) given in April, 1987. A Presidential Reference in the matter is before Supreme Court and the matter is sub-judice.Further report under Section 5(3) is alsosubjudice.
Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puduchery
June, 1990
Report under section 5(2) given on 5.2.2007. Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by party States inHon’ble Supreme Court pending and the matter is           sub-judice.Further report under Section 5(3) is alsosubjudice..
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -II
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra
April, 2004
Report under section 5(2)   given on 30.12. 2010.Further report under Section 5(3) issubjudice.
VansadharaWater Disputes Tribunal
Andhra Pradesh & Orissa
February, 2010
Report under section 5(2) issubjudice.
Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal
Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra
November, 2010
Report and Decision under section 5(2) issubjudice.

The proposal to set up a standing tribunal in place of the existing tribunals to resolve the water disputes among the States is at a conceptual stage.